Crudite and charcuterie boards are like the little black dresses of home entertaining; classic and fail-proof. No other communal dish puts guests at ease — and in the mood for a meal — like a platter piled high with raw veggies, inventive dips, cured meats and cheeses.
The difference between a sad veggie tray and a board that’ll blow your guests minds, has everything to do with these little tips from a few of our favorite L.A. foodies. Annie Campbell, Lady & Larder and Heirloom LA all make boards that practically redefine the genre. Take their tips and drool over some of their work here.
A charcuterie board isn’t complete without…
Mikaela Reuben: Celebrity wellness Chef | My beet thyme cashew dip! Get the recipe here.
Hayley Feldman: LA Restaurateur | Keep things as natural as possible. For a more bountiful, organic look, select fresh produce that isn’t too “clean-looking”. For example, showcase carrots with the tops on. If they’re small, skip peeling entirely. It’s healthy and delicious! Use the fennel and the fennel fronds to decorate. I also love to add fresh flowers from my garden. Just be sure you’re sourcing organically, so that your guests can actually eat them!
Annie Campbell: Annie Campbell Catering | We always put out stationary boards of cheese and charcuterie for our guests before the big feast. This way I’m not fussing with last minute hot hors d’oeuvres or having to replenish throughout cocktail hour. I select a few different cheeses and fill the board in with colorful fruits (e.g. grapes, apples, asian pears and persimmons), fig jam, charcuterie, nuts, olives, crackers and pickles.
Sarah Simms Hendrix: Co-Founder of Lady & Larder | We like to put our crudités in an ice bath before serving so that they have that perfect texture and crunch. Also, make sure you serve your cheese and charcuterie at room temperature to ensure that you are getting to experience the full taste and texture experience of each item.
Pamela Salzman: Cooking Instructor | For little pops of color, I like to dot the board with edible flowers, or sprigs of fresh herbs like rosemary or thyme, fresh basil leaves or sprigs of lavender.
Kat Odell : Food Writer | I love to offer different types of honey on a cheese board. Based on the botanicals the bees grazed upon, honey flavors vary dramatically. Beyond manuka honey, I like to offer comparisons between coffee honey and wildflower honey. I am also obsessed with this Upstate New York cheese called Kunik. It’s a triple cream, so it’s super creamy, but also has some funk to it — so addicting! And if you want to make super simple homemade crackers (and I give my friend Brad’s mom Barb credit for this one), take Ezekiel sprouted whole grain tortillas. Cut them into tortilla chip-sized wedges, brush them with olive oil, salt, and herbs, then bake until golden brown. So good!
Tara Maxey: Co-Founder of Heirloom LA | Make it planty! A charcuterie board doesn’t have to be all meat. There are so many delicious and unique plant-based additions. We love a layered beet and goat cheese terrine or a mushroom-lentil pate. Get a few of our favorite recipes here. Try ditching crackers for something cleaner, like these raw red pepper poppers.